Early Careers Programme

Supporting academics early in their careers is a key issue for our members and crucial to the long-term vitality of teaching and research. As higher education continues its rapid expansion, and earlier generations of academics draw closer to retirement, there is a growing need to replenish academic ranks and encourage a diverse staff profile. Through targeted grants, innovative projects, and professional development opportunities, the ACU helps member universities to build the capacity of their emerging academics and strengthen the systems in place to support their development.

CIRCLE Visiting Fellows at workshop in 2016

CIRCLE Visiting Fellows at workshop in 2016

Annual grants

  • ACU Early Career Academic Grants enable emerging academics at ACU member institutions to attend conferences or academic meetings outside their own region, thereby broadening their horizons and helping them to establish key international contacts.

Ongoing projects

  • The Climate Impacts Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) project is supporting fellowships for early career African researchers in the field of climate change to conduct a one year research project. All fellows are hosted at an African institution from which they receive supervision and training support. CIRCLE also runs an institutional strengthening programme to build institutional capacity in early career researcher support at the participating home and host institutions.

  • The Structured Training for African Researchers (STARS) project has developed, and is currently piloting, an initiative to maximise the use of staff time through a blended online and in-person training approach. This has been put into practice through the collaborative development of a nine module online, professional skills course, backed-up by tutoring within their institution; and the development of an implementation tool to assist participating universities to embed the course and associated support into their own structures and systems.

  • The Nairobi Process, a series of consultations conducted in partnership with the British Academy aims to stimulate discussion around provision for researchers, with later reports focusing specifically on support for early career academics.

  • The Africa Desk serves as both a directory of expertise, and a map of the Africa-UK research landscape, principally in the social sciences and humanities.

Completed projects

  • The DocLinks project, completed in 2013, sought to strengthen networks between European and African doctoral and post-doctoral researchers.